A few months ago I was recruited by the dynamic CEO and founder of 1 Million Women Natalie Isaacs to join her Power Women Project. As one of 10 women signed on for the energy-saving initiative I agreed to work with the group to find real and lasting ways to reduce the total energy consumption of my household by 20%.
I live with three men, two of them plugged-in teenagers. It was always going to be a tall order but given the way that our electricity bill has skyrocketed over the last couple of years I felt it essential that we begin to consciously contribute to the sustainable future of the planet.
Working closely with the 1 Million Women team has been an eye-opener. The importance of choosing appliances that have a high energy rating cannot be over-stated. But along the way I have been shown that it’s the little conscious changes that really make a difference.
Here are the five key things that we are now doing as a family to reduce the energy usage at home:
- Turning out the lights. By ensuring that we only turn on the lights in rooms that are being occupied, we are already well on our way to achieving our energy-reduction goal. Prior to joining the program I would nag my sons to switch the lights off in their rooms while all of the general living areas were lit up like a hotel.
- Switching off standby power. Apart from the fridge and phones, virtually every other power switch in the home should be turned off when an appliance isn’t is use. The evening after the workshop where that was suggested, I walked around my house with increasing shame at the number of power switches that were left on in case we needed to use the toaster, kettle, coffee machine, charge our iPhones, listen to the stereo etc, etc. You will be surprised at what a difference switching them off will have to your energy usage.
- Reducing our reliance on the dryer. Oh boy. The dryer is by far the greatest drain on the energy used in our home. As a benefit to joining the program my home was wired up with a device that has allowed me to monitor our energy usage by the second. When I switch on the dryer, the graph is virtually off the charts. I could actually reduce most of my energy usage target just by reducing the days that I use the dryer.
- Rethinking the need for certain electrical gadgets. Unless you are preparing for a dinner party do you really need to use that device that chops and dices vegetables? And planning ahead with the natural defrosting of meats will avoid an expensive round of microwaving. The microwave, by the way, is the second biggest energy guzzler that I own. Once you’ve seen its energy usage charted you may find it difficult to rationalize its usage. I have barely used the microwave since starting on this energy-saving path.
- Waking up to sheer wastage. I’m embarrassed to admit that we own as many TVs as we have people living in our home. That means that most weekends, they can be all on at the same time as my sons move from room to room checking on sports scores – a different sporting event will be on each television at the one time. Instead of switching between channels with the remote control, they move between rooms savouring the game for as long as it holds their interest. That way they haven’t had to learn to compromise as to which game to watch at any given time. Well that activity has come to a grinding halt since we have all become a lot more conscious about what that actually means in real energy-use terms. Even they were horrified when I showed them on the Power Women project site.
On October 30 the 10 women in the Power Women project will unite for an event to show how much energy we have saved by being fully aware of our household usage and committing to do something about it. We’re halfway through and I know that the experience has already made a real difference in my home.